Despite strong warning from the government and the Madras High Court to drop their indefinite strike, transport union workers continued their agitation across the State for the third day on Saturday even as Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar warned that departmental action would be taken if they fail to report for duty by Sunday. "Recourse to lighting strikes or flash strikes without notice leads to the consequences of denying the citizens of their right to free movement and is clearly illegal and against the public interest", the judge said while passing interim orders on a PIL filed in this regard.
"The alternative measures that are being taken by the government will only worsen the problem". In a joint statement, workers unions said the government had held 21 rounds of talks with them in the last 16 months but had not been able to come to a decision on the wage revision issue. He said, "Thirty employees refused to accept the agreement". Drivers and conductors of various state transport corporations are demanding wage hike.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader A. Soundarrajan said they were ready for talks and regretted that people will suffer.
General Secretary of DMK-backed LPF, M Shanmugam, said they were not anxious about action from the government since any protest would attract action.
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Leader of opposition MK Stalin and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan have also appealed to Chief Minister EPS to hold talks with transport workers to end the stalemate.
Sounderrajan, who participated in talks with government on Thursday, on Friday claimed that "not even 10 percent" of buses were being operated across the state.
Further, seven unions joined the strike today, taking the number to 17, he told reporters here. The State government offered a 2.41-2.44 times rise, which was rejected by union representatives. Over 40 trade unions affiliated to the state transport corporations have made a decision to intensify the protest. Besides, private buses were also roped in to meet the situation at several places. The commuters complained that auto rickshaws and taxis charged exorbitant fares as the public transport system was hit.